Sunday, August 31, 2014

As Far North As The "Deep South"

The Deep South
Yes, it seems that in all of our 2,200 nautical miles... we have failed to escape from the "Deep South".    Coming from the "really deep south" waters of the Texas Gulf Coast... I've considered us as "going North" ever since we left the Florida Keys!!!  Imagine my chagrin when I realized that South Carolina is still... The South.

I have been thinking about a lot of things as we near the One Year Cruising Mark.  I'm mulling.  I'm ruminating.  I'm examining the premises and visions of how I imagined it would be out here, and comparing them to how it IS.

Maybe we've been stationary too long...
We had "planned" on getting as far as the Chesapeake Bay this season, but the weather combined with our newfound realization that we don't HAVE to do ANYTHING... have us only getting as far NORTH... as the DEEP SOUTH!

This has me amazed considering that my husband and his friend Chuck brought Dos Libras all the way from Rhode Island to her new home in Texas... in 31 days!!!  Dang we're SLOW!

Serene Anchorage in the S. Edisto River
But that's OK.  My whole reason for traveling in the ICW has been so that we can really SEE and experience the towns along the way.  I'll admit here that I never actually learned where the states were back in school... Oh I passed the tests... and then promptly forgot what I had learned to the point that I couldn't have named the coastal states in order to save my life.  Now we've visited seven of the coastal states (counting Texas), and I feel that I have a sort of "relationship" with them.  I know a little bit about each of them, in a way that I never would have had we just skipped along offshore.  So in that way, my plan has been a success!

This form of travel also allows us to experience areas that most people NEVER see.  We travel in the backwater marshes and through the pine forests where I can imagine that no man has ever set foot...  We've been in places that are so quiet that we can envision the end of civilization.  There is nothing but the sound of birds calling and fish flopping and the wind sighing through the trees.  It has been inspiring and so very un-scary!  Just extremely peaceful!  I LOVE the South!

Time to make fresh baked banana bread while underway
Since making the decision to end our northward trek in Charleston, SC... We've been making some plans.  The impending change-of-seasons has brought this upon us.  We've made it through the hot Summer months with this Labor Day weekend, the Official End Of Summer.  For us it signifies the nearing of time to turn back.  Time to head South once more,  to flee the oncoming winter!  I never want to see winter again!

So, we're spoiling ourselves with two more luxurious months in the St. John's Yacht Harbor Marina.  It's luxurious because it provides us with unlimited water, power we don't have to make ourselves, access to lovely shower and laundry facilities... and a POOL!  Yes!  I've always wanted to have a pool!!!

While Dos Libras is here, we will take a road trip back to Texas so that we can fulfill our responsibilities as homeowners and take care of some things at our townhouse.  We will enjoy a visit with family and friends.  Then we will bring our car back here to SC, which will give us the opportunity to roam further and explore this historic portion of the coast more thoroughly.  And we will have the opportunity to finish some of the boat projects we've still managed to put off all this time...

Then, at the end of October, we will retrace some routes and make new ones as we get a head start on the season.... Bahamas Bound!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Liebster Award

Woo Hoo!  I won something!

Well, not really...  That's what I thought at first when I realized that this is something like a "chain letter" for Bloggers.

Oh NOOOOOO!  Not a CHAIN letter!!!  You all know how I feel about chain letters... Well, maybe you don't.  I hate them.  (and now you do)

But then I read Mark and Cindy's Liebster Award post and I realized that this truly is a legitimate award.

It is legitimate in that I consider it an honor that ANYONE would make time in their busy lives to make it through read my lengthy epic sometimes wordy blog posts.   The fact that there are people out there like Mark and Cindy who feel that I've made a difference or added something to their lives, is just a wonder to me.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, so for this nomination... Mark and Cindy... here is my heartfelt THANK YOU!

OK... so it's a chain letter for Bloggers.  What are the rules?

- Thank the person who nominated us and link back to their page.
- Answer the 10 questions they have asked us and publish the post.
- Nominate 10 up-and-coming blogs that we feel deserve more readership and ask THEM 10 questions.

Alrighty then... moving right along... I've thanked & linked Mark and Cindy on Cream Puff.  Now for the questions.  As I read through the Q&A portion of their post, I got worried that I wouldn't be able to think of anything original to say when answering the questions myself.  So many of the answers they gave were eerily similar to those that I would give.  But no worries... we get a different set of questions to answer.

I am the Blogger in our family.  Bruce rarely contributes (other than being one of the main characters) and never writes a post.  But since the questions are for both of us... I've given him the questions and he has answered them himself... and I have done the same.  It's a "He said - She said".  Here we GO!

1.  Meet the crew.  Who are you?  Each share something about the other (not on the blog).

He said:  Hey... I watch The Bachelor!  She is amazing and she is my soulmate!

In the beginning I was the one with years of experience and made most of the decisions aboard the boat.  (not so much in other areas) But I soon realized that she was a "natural" at sailing.  Two examples:  First - I had her piloting my 33 ft. sailboat while I tidied the sails in preparation for docking.  She was doing fine and so I asked her if she wanted to put the boat into the slip... something she had never done before.  She replied "OK" and slid the boat right in.  When I told her that I was amazed because most people are scared to death that they will crash the boat, Tammy thought I was "blowing smoke" and has been parking the boat ever since.  Second example - we were on a 41 ft. sailboat at 1 a.m., the winds were above 20 knots, a 150 genoa sail was in the water and one crewman was at the bow attempting to get the sail back onboard.  I was at the helm and Tammy was in front of me, tethered in and trying to help pull the sail in, when I did an accidental jibe.  (I was turning the boat downwind to reduce pressure on the sail to help pull in the jib) The boom swung violently around and I saw Tammy flying sideways across the cockpit.  I was actually afraid to look, knowing the damage a boom on that size boat could do.  The mainsheet had picked her up and spun her around, depositing her on the other side of the boat.  She was grinning at me and said "WOW... can we do that again?".  I knew then that I couldn't let her get away!

She Said:  Bruce is pretty quiet.  If you've met us, you know that he is NOT the spokesperson of the two of us.  BUT... still waters run deep.  Get to know him and you will be amazed at what's in there... He has travelled through Europe with a group of young college students and found his way back to his hotel without knowing its name... Before retiring he was a well respected Swim Coach with many accolades to his credit.  He still follows swimming and dreams about it.  And he is a pretty good swimmer himself.  He compares his personal times with those of swimmers in the news, and his times hold up pretty well nationally...  He is an avid sports fan, and not of just one sport, but MOST sports.  He can cite scores and times and details about the games and lives of the athletes in most popular sports.  This talent is starved aboard our boat so if you meet up with us somewhere - PLEASE talk sports with him!... If you ask him what time it is, he will tell you how to make a clock...He is a softie.  He will be the one who defends the underdog in any argument and if pushed too far, he may offer to punch a bully in the nose (ask him about that one)... He seldom raises his voice... He loves to fish, but is terrible at it... He is still a teacher at heart and is very patient.  He misses having students with which to share his knowledge.  He was "that teacher" that all of the students loved... He is 71 years old... He is more energetic and athletic than most people HALF his age.  He exercises in some form every day.  EVERY. DAY... He was once called SCUM, by a PIMP, in Tijuana... His first (and only) marriage occurred at the age of 61 and he has no biological children.  He considers Tammy's children as his own... He is the Most Wonderful Husband and Step-Father/role model imaginable.

2.  What advice would you give to a wannabe traveler just starting out?

He said:  Assuming that you already know how to sail and have a boat... live on the boat for a while and learn her systems.  To enjoy cruising you have to know that you are the captain, the plumber, the diesel mechanic, and have a good idea of how all of these systems work.  Otherwise you're going to find yourself calling Towboat US and paying people $100 per hour to troubleshoot and fix your boat.

Go sailing and practice your navigational skills.  You really need to know how to read a chart.  Don't just depend upon punching some buttons on your chart plotter and being done.  You have to know how to navigate if your chart plotter fails.  

Take the advice of others with a grain of salt... especially the Doom and Gloom part.

She said:  Just DO IT!  I never went anywhere before the age of 30.  I didn't know that ordinary people could just simply go places.  I started with vacation package deals and then after meeting Bruce, I planned sailing trips for us.  Take some bareboat charters in places that are set up for it, like the British Virgin Islands.  The internet opens up the world for us.  Pick a place, spend some time researching it and you'll be surprised at how quickly a plan will come together.

Now, if you're talking about Cruising as your form of travel... that takes years of planning.  Mentally, financially, logistically... A lot goes into it.  Finances seems to be the biggest obstacle.  You really have to have either a big savings account or some form of income, with "passive" being the optimal form.  (Our income is through Bruce's retirement) But first you have to save and prepare.  Cut out all non-boat related spending.  Get rid of your cable TV, no more Starbucks...  If it doesn't speed your departure date, you don't need it.  Total emersion is the only way...

The first real milestone towards tossing the dock lines is to seriously make the decision to do it.  You can dream about it and talk about it... but until you DECIDE to do it once and for all, it remains just a dream.

3.  Can you roll your tongue or wiggle the end?

He said:  No to rolling, yes to wiggling and that's all I'm saying...

She said:  I can do BOTH!  I'm talented like that...

4.  What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

He said:  That's an EASY one!  Connie's Mexico Cafe in Wichita, KS.  I love their Chili Cheese Burrito and their Monterrey Tostadas!  I always go there when visiting home.

She said:  Funny how this place comes to mind when considering that question.  I've only eaten there once, but it stands out in my mind as such a sublime experience.  Cafe la Princesa in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico!  I ordered Pastelon, kind of a plantain lasagne and it was so wonderful... I even made it when we got home.  We were in OSJ for 24 hours for a serendipitous flight layover between Tortola and home.  The sounds of the tree frogs, the soft tropical night air, the locals selling their wares in the square... it was a lovely night.  This restaurant is not to be missed if you're ever in Old San Juan.

5.  If you sail as a couple, who is really, and I mean REALLY... the captain?

He said:   I AM... in my dreams...

She said:  Strangely... me.  Although I am uncomfortable with the term "captain" as I have not earned the right to it.  Maybe Skipper is a more appropriate term.

I've taken to this lifestyle so whole heartedly, that planning our cruise has replaced all of the work that I once did as a livelihood.  Although I consult with Bruce and fill him in once I've plotted our moves, I have become the one who is more involved with reviewing the charts, plotting our course and knowing what to expect on the way.

There are so many things to do on the boat to keep us going, it just seems silly for BOTH of us to devote this much time to planning our movements when there are other things Bruce could be doing.  He takes care of the mechanics of it; maintaining the boat's systems, changing the oil, troubleshooting mechanical problems, sail configuration and trim... all of those things that he knows much more about than I do.

When you think about it, all of those things are really part of the captain's duties, so between the two of us we really are two parts combined to make one whole "captain".

6.  What are your favorite meals to cook while sailing?

He said:  While underway?  Frito Pie or sandwiches.  In general cruising? Anything grilled.

She said:  While underway?  Bruce usually cooks while I'm at the helm, but I guess I would have to say Pop Tarts.  In general cruising terms?  I like to make magic in the galley using whatever we happen to have aboard.  This talent came from my childhood and the wonderful throw-together meals my Mother used to produce.  She could make a tasty and savory meal from what you might find in the average GARAGE!

It's fun to combine the few fresh ingredients we have with stuff from the vast stores of provisions I laid up before we left.  Gradually I'm getting through them...  Favorites include:  Enchiladas with spanish rice, Pasta a la kitchen sink (Pasta with anything we happen to have around thrown in), and Cheesie potatoes.

7.  Who's idea was it to buy a boat and how did they convince the other person?

He said:  Before we decided to go cruising, I had owned five keelboats.  The last, a 36 ft. racer/cruiser that we both knew wasn't big enough for us to live comfortably aboard.  We needed a boat in the 40 ft. range.  Tammy was the one who wanted to go cruising but I didn't think she would quit her job to do it.  When she convinced me that she WOULD quit her job, we then began to think about what we wanted in our cruising boat.

There were fewer compromises than you might think, and in the end, we both feel that our Catalina Morgan 45 is the perfect boat for us.

She said:  Bruce already had a boat when we met, so there was no convincing there.  The choice to sell our racer/cruiser and buy a cruising boat was definitely more my choice.  I knew that I couldn't enjoy cruising aboard our CS36.  Bruce wanted to try it out first, and then if we liked cruising, buy a bigger boat.  I told him that if we cruised on our 36, there could be no chance of me enjoying cruising.

The reason?  There was NO storage space on Elan and every time I put my own stuff into the few existing cubbies, it would be removed and replaced with "guy stuff" such as spare parts and tools...  There was no space for me to keep the things that I needed to make a home.

So, being the dutiful husband that he is, he offered up his beloved Elan for sale and waded with me through the endless sea of sailboats on the market, until we found one that we could BOTH love to own and cruise.

8.  Where is your dream destination?

He said:  Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Grenadines, Trinidad.  If I had to pick just ONE... I guess it would be the Virgin Islands... but that could change.

She said:  British Virgin Islands hands down!  We have chartered there so many times.  It is a dream of mine to some day sail those waters aboard our own boat.

9.  Why did you pick sailing as a form of transportation or hobby (over an RV/camper for instance)?

He said:  Sailing has been my #1 passion since 1970.  However, I can see traveling in an RV when my physical capacities diminish.

She said:  I'm kind of a "love the one you're with" kind of girl.  I found sailing and never looked back.  But... we are considering an RV to be in our next life when we can no longer sail.

10.  Would you please describe your best sailing day ever? (or a link to it)

He said:  I think it was the day we won the our class in the Navy Day Regatta back in Corpus Christi.  The boat was in perfect harmony, the sails were trimmed, the crew weight moved in and out.  The boat steered itself.  I would instruct the crew to move in or outboard a foot and the boat just rolled along.

We had a new (to us) mylar headsail. The joy of the crew as we crossed the finish line was complete.  Everyone felt like they had a part in the win.  We anchored the boat and everybody went into the water with their favorite drink in their hand.

Later, at the awards ceremony, I can't tell you how proud I was as our crew picked up the trophy for the most important race of the year.

She said:  My best sailing day ever was actually a sailing night.  That's kind of ironic to me as now I would rather not sail at night if there is an alternative...  But back when I first began sailing, it was on a trip in the Gulf of Mexico between Port Aransas and Galveston.  We were taking the 41 ft. C&C up to do the annual Harvest Moon Regatta.  I was aboard with a crew of men and it was my watch.  We were bounding along in the moonlight and it felt like a magic carpet ride.  The boat moved so rhythmically and the wind was in my face, cool and damp.  There were so many stars, both in the sky and in the water.  It was the first time I saw the phosphorescence in our wake and it was like something out of the cartoon Peter Pan... like we were buoyed up by fairy dust.  I had no fear and perfect confidence in my crew-mates.  I was young and invincible and on a grand adventure.  It was the most wonderful feeling I had ever known....  maybe I'll have to re-think my resistance to night sails...


Now I must choose the blogs for my nomination.  This is more difficult than I thought it would be because many of my choices can be found on Cream Puff's list.  So I must search further afield than those that first opened the door to the world of Cruising for me.

There are, of course, those that have already made names for themselves such as Windtraveler, Zero to Cruising, Sailing Totem and Rebel Heart, among many others too numerous to list.  There are also those who were a huge influence for me who have now stopped cruising and are on to other things such as More Joy Everywhere and Plodding in Paradise.  They need no boost but were instrumental in my journey.

Here are my nominations in no significant order:

Sailing Banyan - Alexandra and David.  I followed this young Canadian couple all the way through the islands to their current location, Grenada.  These two were the most influential to me in making it seem real and doable.  They are now just hangin' out in the islands...

Mid-Life Cruising - Cheryl and Ken.  Cheryl's "Frugal Friday" posts resonated with me and got me thinking about all of the ways we could economize in the early planning years to make our dream a reality.  Although we are cruising now and Cheryl and Ken are still anticipating the day they can set sail, I consider them to be fellow Cruisers who have so much to share.

Adventure Us 2 - Janet Lee and Michael.  We met these two when we were just starting out back in Texas.  We became friends and have continued to enjoy watching their journey to Cruising.  They are getting closer and have just recently sold their home and moved aboard.  Keep an eye on them because they're a HOOT!

The Adventures of What If - Cathy and Ed.  Down to earth, no nonsense, just a couple living life on their boat, traveling around...  These people are just so competent.  There is nothing on the boat that they can't do.  What If is their NEW boat... Sea Soul being the boat they sailed upon when we met.  

S/V Magnolia - Annette and Anthony.  These two have been putting some miles beneath their keel ever since I found them.  They've already done the East Coast, toured the Bahamas and made it back up the East Coast... and are getting ready to do it again.  I'm hopeful that we can catch up to them somewhere.  

Estrellita 5.10b - Livia and Carol.  These two were an influence in two ways.  Even though they are sailing the South Pacific... cruising grounds I will most likely never see... they are the perfect eye through which to see these beautiful sights.  But even more importantly, they have created two spinoff websites that were such an inspiration to me.  One for new cruisers called Newly Salted, and another for more seasoned cruisers called Interview With A Cruiser.  I read through these interviews voraciously and gained a lot of knowledge from others in our planning stages. 

S/V Wild Card - Heather, Robin and dog, Oni.  One of the newer finds on my list and yes... it is "the" Wild Card.  Cap'n Fatty Goodlander's boat, now cruising around in the Caribbean with her new owners.  

Bettie del Mar - Attila, Vlad and baby Jari.  This couple has really been around.  They're currently in Mexico and are, to me, the quintessential cruising family.  Just low key and out doin' their thing.  I think they're worth watching.

Adventures of the Yacht White Pepper - Karl and Jan and their cat Aphrodite.  Karl's boat is the one Bruce and I were sailing aboard when we met.  It is the boat in my Best-Sailing-Day-Ever story and in many of my other stories as well.

Yacht Wandering Star - Rosie, Sim and Evil Ali.  We crossed paths with Rosie and Sim on our way up the East US coast just after their return from the Bahamas.  They have just celebrated ten years of living aboard and cruising all around the Caribbean.  They are who I aspire to be... seasoned cruisers just livin' the life.


My questions:  Apply these to your cruising life whatEVER stage you're in.

1.  What is the one thing you wish more people knew about you?  Don't be afraid to brag here... this is your chance!

2.  If you could have EITHER five minutes with a crystal ball OR five minutes with a Genie... which would you choose and what would you ask for?

3.  What would you say is your partner's greatest contribution to your success (current or future) as sailors/cruisers?

4.  When will you/did you REALLY consider yourself to be a Cruiser?  What does the word "Cruiser" mean to you?

5.  What do you think will be the thing that ends your Cruising journey?  And why?

6.  What was it like the moment that you "decided" to go cruising?  What was the catalyst?  Or was it a more gradual thing that just happened?

7.  How did your current boat get its name?  Have you ever thought of changing it?

8. What size boat do you/will you cruise on?  And if money were no object... would you buy a bigger one?

9.  It is often said that before you leave, everyone says they will come visit you, but most never do.  Who would you MOST like to come visit you on your boat and why?

10.  Thinking back to before you tossed the dock lines and how you thought cruising would be,  what in reality was your biggest misconception?  What was your biggest surprise?  What was your biggest disappointment? (If you haven't yet set sail, what do you think WILL Be your biggest adjustments?  Sacrifices?  Joys?)

Update:  A second nomination has unleashed a second set of questions.  Read the Q&A HERE!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hetta Coffey Mysteries - A Book Review

Jinx Schwartz (origin of Pic)
Dagnabbit!  There's ANOTHER one!...  But my faux consternation turned instantly to delight, followed by a couple of clicks on and it's ALL MINE!  I can't WAIT to get started reading Just Needs Killin' - the SIXTH book in the Hetta Coffey Series by Jinx Schwartz.  Before I went looking for links to write this post, I didn't know that the sixth book in the series was out!!  (LOVE!)

I love reading books by Cruisers - about cruising... but even more so when it's Fiction, because then it can get REALLY wild!  You can tell when a book is written by someone who KNOWS what they're talking about.  I mean, when someone writes a book or makes a movie about sailing, and they really have no idea what it's like... it rings false in a most annoying way.  This is not the case with this writer.  She has cruised the Sea of Cortez for years and writes of it in such a way that I feel, after reading her books, that I've been there as well...

I found Hetta innocently enough, by downloading one, then another of the series FREE on (Thanks Jinx).  You know, sometimes authors will offer their books free for a limited time so that you can try them out...  Well, I'm such a cheapskate that I don't usually BUY books... BUT!... for these, I've been compelled to make several exceptions.  At the time of writing, there were no free books available but there was one really good deal to get you started!  And ALL of these books are priced so reasonably, that even I have purchased several outright!

I had books one through four on my Kindle before I began reading them, luckily for me...  Once I finished the first one, I was hot onto the second... and so on until I started the fourth.  It was at that point that I put the halt on it.  I didn't know there would be others, and I was so enamored with the main characters,  Hetta and Jan, I couldn't stand the thought of finishing this book!  I would miss them.  I had to stretch it out... prolong the reading of this book so that I didn't have to say goodbye!

Why did I feel this way about these books?  The characters were so real to me because in some ways, Jinx writes like I do... like she's (Hetta is) talking to the reader, sharing her real and innermost thoughts.  That casual style is one I can identify with and it's not just that... The characters themselves are "people" with whom I can personally identify.

I'm from Texas (and I like to think that I can be sassy)!  I totally get the "Texas mentality" that oozes from Hetta's pores and awakens my own Inner-Texan.  It felt nice to bring that out and let it run.  I hadn't realized that since leaving home, there hasn't been much opportunity for appreciation of my Texas self.

The more compelling reason for not wanting it to end, was the relationship between Hetta and Jan.  They reminded me so much of my own relationship with my best friend Mimi.  She passed away some three years ago and I have missed her so.  This book allowed me to feel that connection once again in a way that I hadn't thought possible.  Jan and Hetta are just so comfortable with one another.  The goodnatured ribbing, with the underlying feeling of having a history and of being there for one another through thick and thin... was just so familiar, I couldn't let it end.

On a more broad level, and the reason that I can whole-heartedly recommend these books to my friends... are the descriptions of the Sea of Cortez, the weather, the Mexico-ness of it... all so very real and like I said, I feel like I've now been there.

The fact that the stories were written by a power boater... (out of respect I will refrain from using some of the more colorful names)...was not even off-putting!  There are some similarities between power-boating and sailing which have me drawing parallels between my life and the day to day lives of the characters.  The things that they must do to keep the boat going, along with trying to stay alive... added a level of reality that have me wondering HOW this could be fiction at all... until the stories unfold of course...

Then it's all zany plots and hyper-reality at its finest.  Stories just close enough to what COULD happen, but a tiny bit over the line so that you aren't just reading about the ho-hum lives of others... I won't go into the stories as they are just too fun and complicated to even describe... you'll just have to read them for yourself.  But after reading them myself, I can say that although the Sea of Cortez isn't on our Cruising Plate at any time in the near future... reading these books has made it feel like it could be.... even if HALF of this stuff is true!

If you are into reading books about boating, light hearted little-bit-of-danger-while-I'm-safe-in-my-own-cockpit kind of stuff... then you MUST have these books!  I can, without reservation, say that my women readers will enjoy them, and I can even say that with Hetta's personality, many of my men readers will love the stories as well.  They have an element of romance in that Hetta is looking for love and has found it in Jenks Jenkins... (They even end up together, married and cruising the Sea of Cortez in Schwartz's non-series book Troubled Sea), but the books are not love stories.  These books quite simply have it ALL!  Don't be a cheapskate like me... get them. Read them.  ENJOY!

Now... I'm off to start that last book...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our Month Is Half Over...

We're enjoying the SSCA perks, better fly the flag!
And what do we have to show for it?  It's difficult to remember as time has passed in a blur.  I can't explain the transition from the thought processes that occur during "travel mode" and this new development... "home mode".

When we're traveling day after day, things are different.  We don't do much housekeeping other than the maintenance types of things, cleaning out the cat box, bagging up the trash, wiping up messes as they occur...  We don't even try to do any type of deep cleaning or projects.  Those things are put on the back burner, seemingly forgotten... but not really.  They're just waiting there... for their turn.

Well, the floodgates have been opened with our arrival at this SSCA Cruising Station.  All of the forgotten projects have come rushing to our minds in a spinning mass.  The list is growing daily and with each addition, three more things are created as spinoffs...  That's the way it is with boat projects.

How many of these things can we get done in a month?  That remains to be seen, but I think we have made reasonable progress... hey, we're on permanent vacation!  We can't be expected to work ALL the time!

First on my agenda (which luckily coincides with BRUCE's agenda) was to clean house!!!  After weeks of travel... our little home is (in my mind) a mess!  I needed the luxury of copious amounts of water to thoroughly clean the heads from top to bottom...  vacuum and wet mop the floors, wipe down the walls and ceilings and dust everything!

Yes, I clean with a toothbrush!
I took up floors and cleaned out cubbies...

We've recently had some  roach sightings and I've declared war upon them...  I cleaned and put out roach poison and threw away bad cans that had sprung a leak... Ick!  It was a mess!

Once all of that was done, we got to work on a project that has been on my mind for some weeks but the opportunity was lacking until now...  With the generous offer of a truck to use, we rented an upholstery cleaner!

I don't know how old the upholstery in our boat is... it was there when we bought the boat, but I don't think it was the original material.  The boat sat for a year before we bought her, and since then, it has been sat upon, spilled on, sweated on, barfed on...and who know what other evils have befallen this fabric...

We dragged out every cushion and every backrest onto the dock and went to work cleaning them all.  I worked for hours, until I could hardly move my arms... and then Bruce went to work to finish it off.

We used my home made laundry soap that contains Tea Tree Oil for the job.  In my mind at least, this magic elixir imparts an acceptable level of cleanliness that soothes my soul...

Jezabelle kept an eye on our progress...
I know those of you who don't live with pets would be appalled... we aren't dirty people, but our recent offshore travel has been hard on our feline crew mates.  The rolly seas had even the stalwart Jetsam hugging the cat box and there may have been some times she didn't quite make it.  But that's all behind us now...So CATS... bring on your worst!  I'm ready for you!

This was a hard job, but well worth it in my mind.  Maybe we'll do it annually from here on out!

While the project list keeps growing and growing... we haven't worked non-stop.  We have enjoyed some pleasant sundowners sitting in the boathouse with Jezabelle...

It's always nice there in the shade no matter what the weather is...  And we've had some HOT days, as well as some relatively cool ones.

Jezabelle practicing for a life with the circus...
The cats were suspicious at first about this new development.  They are normally not allowed onto the dock and I'm wondering if letting them come ashore is a mistake... I'm sure we'll regret letting them have this freedom when we get to the next public marina and they still want to go ashore.

Jetsam is not so adventurous.  She has remained onboard until the last few days.  She's just more stealthy and prefers to leave the boat when we aren't looking...

The Butlers have been gracious enough to lend us their truck to run errands and do our shopping.  The first week we were here, I think we used the vehicle several days in a row to do our laundry, provisioning, hunting for parts and refilling our propane tank.  Beaufort and the surrounding area is very beautiful with tall trees and lots of marshes.

We also had a nice lunch with a couple of Facebook friends and visited the little Farmer's Market where we found some yummy goodies like veggies, home made cheeses, breads and we even splurged on a home made bread pudding made with local peaches!  Delish!

But then, the fun was over and it was back to work on boat projects... We have developed several leaking ports and one in particular needed the gasket replaced.  This is not as easy as it may sound... We spent literally HOURS digging out the old sealant so that the new gasket would go into a small groove.  Then we pulled it back out and applied new sealant and then had to coax the gasket BACK into the groove...

Doesn't look any different, but it IS!
It took both of us working over two days and our backs and fingers are sore from the exertion...  But, when it rained again, that port did not leak!  Eureka!

Our next project was to do something about the broken pull on our freezer compartment.  The old push button mechanism just came out one day several weeks ago... you might remember that we used a plunger to open the freezer door and I worried that it would be the permanent solution.  Well, it has taken us some weeks to get back to work on this.  We ordered a replacement from Catalina, but it was cheaply made and didn't fit the hole.  Nor would it lock the door down... so we're returning it and had to figure out a Plan B.

We came up with a different type of pull found on many boats, but we had to alter the hole in the countertop to make the piece sit flush.  This involved some time with the dremmel tool and a lot of fear.

The two salad dressing bottles are being used as weights to keep the door from springing open.  We had to use a 30 lb. gas shock to replace the old broken 20 lb. one because they evidently don't make the 20 lb. model anymore.  So now, we will need to figure out how to keep the door down, but that is a project for another day...

We were able to carve out enough countertop to allow for a flush fit of the new door pull without making any huge mistakes... so we're calling this a success!

We drilled holes in the countertop to mount the pull and luckily we had some stainless steel bolts with nuts to affix to the underside with washers so that there is ample support for opening the door.

It isn't perfect but it works.  I've had to let go of a lot of my compulsions for perfection since moving onto this boat...  Sometimes, "perfect" just isn't possible...

Now we just need to find some kind of mechanism for keeping the top from popping up... (other than weighting it with salad dressings).  We are leaning towards mounting a barrel bolt if we can find screws that will work on this countertop material without cracking it...  Wish us luck!

The shelf is oddly shaped to fit the compartment.
Our OTHER freezer project ended in success!  We have been using a basket inside to hold some of the smaller items like cheeses and such, that don't require freezing.  The upper hullside isn't cold enough to freeze things solid, but keeps them super cold.  The basket is what broke our old 20 lb. gas shock, so in order for that to not happen again, we decided to build a shelf to store those items on.  It took us a while, but we got it done and now we are enjoying the extra space that replacing the basket with a shelf has opened up inside the freezer.

The next few days are a blur.  We had been enjoying some cooler weather but now it's just HOT!  We need to clean up our filthy dinghy and patch some new leaks that have been sneaking up on us for weeks...
Dramatic difference!

Bottom is done, now for the tubes...

Waxing the hull for speed!

It took us two days to get the bottom scraped and free of shell growth, cleaned, waxed.  Then we flipped it over and cleaned some more.
Left side dirty, right side clean...

Finally we had the tubes cleaned and prepared for the patchwork.  The bubbles seemed to be coming from beneath previous patches... so...

We decided to remove all of the old leaking patches upon patches and go back to the beginning.

But we had to wait for a new supply of hypalon patch materials to arrive in the mail...

So, with that project on hold, we went for a swim!  That's the only thing one can do on a HOT day like this!

Hey! We've gotta have SOME fun!

Our next few days called for rain!  We still have plenty of things to do inside however...

Bruce sharpened his knife collection. This caused me a wee bit of concern... I had no IDEA we were carrying around so MANY knives... What does a guy need with all of those knives?  GULP!  I guess I'd better straighten up!

Bruce has wanted a new computer for some time.  He is resistant to using our Mac and wanted to return to the Windows environment.  We finally found something that we thought would work on the boat... It is the Dell Venue 8 Pro.  It's a small tablet that works like a touch screen, but has real Windows.  Now Bruce can do his spread sheets on Excel AND check his sports scores... all on this tiny little computer.

I'm sure once he figures it all out, we will love it...  But for now, it's back to hours of fighting with the computer for Bruce...

We finally ran out of excuses for putting off this one unpleasant project...  It's a nasty job, as are all jobs that involve the waste system.  Shortly after buying DL, we replaced the waste hose that leads from the tank to the pump out access on the deck.  We thought that would stop the evil and persistent smell... It did not.  We then determined that the odor was coming from the vent hose which leads from the tank to an outlet high up on the hull... that was unreachable without removing our forward air conditioner (not an option).

After living with that smell for all of these months... we decided to try replacing the hose we could reach, in hopes that it knocked the odor out at least enough to make it livable...  So, we took all of the stuff out of the hanging locker, cut the hose as high up as we could reach, which involved lots of sweating and grunting...  And we spliced a new hose onto it leading back through a small hole in the floor of the locker and onto the tank's vent outlet.  It was a dirty job but once the old portion of hose was removed... the smell disappeared!

Even though there is still a portion of the old hose high up in that closet, I CAN'T SMELL IT!  And Bruce says that my nose can smell a mouse fart, so I'm calling this one a success!

After all of this hard work, we took a break and joined our hosts Rick and Carol for a nice drive out to Dataw Island where we visited a marina and had a very nice dinner.

There is a lovely small marina and a boatyard where you can do the work yourself.  We will file this information away for when we're looking to do a bottom job...  We enjoyed a walk down the docks and a beautiful sunset, although the sunsets back at the house are better...

About a week after we arrived here, a small sailboat showed up and tied off to a mooring ball off of one of the neighboring properties.  the owner left and we haven't seen him since.  We've had daily rain showers lately and one day we noticed that the little boat seemed to be sitting lower in the water.  Upon closer inspection, we realized that the forward hatch was left wide open.

Bruce and Rick talked about it and Rick was going to try to find and contact the owner, but by the next morning, the little boat was on the bottom of the creek!

I felt really badly about it... But everything you read says that it is unlawful to board a boat without the permission of the owner.  There is controversy about this, as many owners would say that if someone noticed that THEIR boat was in peril and nobody did a thing... it would be bad...  However, there are plenty of scenarios in which the owner would NOT like someone boarding their boat, even if it was to help...

Rick in the kayak looking for identification.
I guess we could have called the Coast Guard, but Rick did contact someone and a Sheriff's boat came out to take a look.  They were here for about five minutes and haven't been back.  It's been days and nobody has showed up to do anything with this boat.  Finally, Rick went out there in his kayak to see if he could get the numbers off the hull, but it was sitting too low to read anything.  I guess we'll just have to wait...

On one of our rain free days, Bruce and I geared up to do some bottom scraping.  The waters here are so nutrient rich that we're growing a very healthy garden on our bottom... It isn't just the green stuff that we're worried about however... There are also a lot of barnacles that have been growing ever since we were in Marathon.  We just can't seem to stay ahead and the murky waters we've been traveling in have been no help.

It has become imperative that we do this now, no matter what the visibility!  So, we waited for slack tide and we got after it.  I floated in my life jacket seat and scraped the waterline and as far below the surface as I could reach.  It really wasn't bad... actually it was kind of fun.  And it was nice and cool in the water...

Bruce put on his snorkel gear and dove down to get the deeper parts that I can't reach.  We worked until the tide turned and it became too difficult to keep from being swept away.

Then we discovered the creepy part!  Just as I had feared, we were both covered in creepy-crawlers.  Bruce was worse since he was down under the boat scraping these little guys off onto himself.  When he came up he was spitting them out!  They had crawled into his mustache and tangled themselves in his HAIR!

I was thankfully only half as covered with the squirming little things as Bruce was but, in my book... ANY is too MANY!

I don't know for sure, but I think they're some kind of krill...

Since we didn't finish, I guess this job is going back on the to-do list for later in the week... Oh Joy!

Ever since we arrived, we've been slowly going through cubbies and cabinets and cleaning things out. We have donated quite a few things to Habitat for Humanity, that we started this journey thinking we could not live without.

Bruce reclaimed some storage compartments beneath our salon floor where we had kept canned goods.  We've eaten enough of those original provisions that the remaining few could be consolidated into another storage bin, allowing Bruce to move back into these lesser accessible spaces with some of his lesser used garage stuff.  We were both happy with our newfound feeling of tidiness!

Thank you RICK!
Being the guest of an SSCA Cruising Station Host has a major perk previously unknown to us...  We will be making our way to the Bahamas in the fall and were happy to accept a "chart talk" when Rick offered it to us.  OMG are we ever glad we did.  Rick is actually a content contributor to the most trusted cruising chart books around, Explorer Charts.  What an honor it was for us to have a private review with him of the best way to get to and from the Bahamas, where to go and what to do when we get there, and even better... personal advice for what we should do when we need to fly home for our daughter's graduation next May...  Personalized information from an expert!  Awesome!  We both feel much more prepared to go and it has allayed all of our lingering fears and doubts.

Super Moon High Tide
It has been a great couple of weeks for taking care of those things we just never find the time for when we're under way.  We are slowly working out our systems and figuring out what's important to us and it has been VERY nice to have the luxury of air conditioning.  We have had some time to consider what's next for us and have a plan...  But we've learned that lesson.  We'll let you know when it actually happens!

Super Moon LOW tide!

LOW Low!
HIGH High Craziness!